Elvis Costello will perform this Sunday, Feb. 7 at the Winspear Centre. Read my story in Thursday's Journal. Here are some additional excerpts from my 60-minute conservation with Britain's Cos:
• What to expect at Sunday's show:
"They'll hear plenty from across the board, I don't ignore well-known tunes or older tunes, I just try to play them where I think they'll go best, not necessarily when people yell out for them. Sometimes people call out for something unusual and it sets a whole train of thought going and a bunch of songs appear in the set that wouldn't otherwise. If you get someone relentlessly calling out for a song that you pretty much expect to hear from the moment you hit the stage, that's more likely to make me not play it. I get kind of stubborn then. It's like telling people the end of the movie."
• Will there be a third season of Costello's music/talk show, Spectacle?
"I would be quite happy to say this is enough because when you think about it, there's not that many more people with the same calibre who I'd have the same rapport. There's plenty of great people out there, but I don't know if they'd necessarily trust me in the same way."
• Costello isn't entirely happy with Universal's decision to release several live albums, including Live at Hollywood High and Live at the El Mocambo, both recorded in 1978.
"There's a bewildering amount of records with my name on them out there. They keep releasing all these live albums that all have the same songs on them. I don't know how anybody can tell the difference between any of them — except for the cover. I don't have anything to do with them. I can't imagine people are interested in them. Perhaps they are, I don't know. The sales don't suggest that. … They should be putting out something people haven't had, not putting something out they've already had. There's no interest in it."
"I remember the screaming at Hollywood High. I think that was kind of ironic. I think people came along and decided to scream because we really weren't that good looking. Not even then. There was screaming like it was a Monkees concert. I'm not sure the recording caught it all, but it was really strange. People sort of acted like they were excited schoolgirls at a hop — they were in a high school, when all is said and done. I remember Neil Diamond came to see us. He was backstage. That's it. That was about the most memorable part of it — Neil coming to see us."
"El Mocambo, I remember there was a lot of snow. It was very cold, but people queued up, which I think was pretty tough. Maybe that's why there was a lot of shouting — to warm themselves up. There's a lot of shouting on that recording." — ton of radio recordings from that times
• Costello is one of the voices in a new musical project written by horror novelist Steven King and hearland rocker John Mellencamp. Ghostland Brothers of Darkland County will be released as a collection of CDs and produced as a play.
"They asked me to do a role in it and I went and did my part," says Costello. "I have yet to hear it all and I'm fascinated to hear it. I think it's a great idea — the idea of a radio play with music. I think it could be a new way to go. Lots of people will have an opportunity to interpret the material. I had a lot of fun doing my part — I play a sort of devilish presence, a catalystic presence."
• Costello laments the loss of record stores.
"Canada is one of the few countries that I visit that even has record shops any more," he says. "That's more than you can say about New York. It changes the way people think about music and fractures it all the more. You can't put it back the way it was and you can't live in the past. You have to think about the new way of doing things. I do think it's encouraging that there are some places that see the value in people being able to go in and find things for themselves rather than having it all arrive compressed and crushed down into a little digital box that sounds horrible. Instantaneous, and sometimes free, access is pretty tempting. I understand that, too. I carry on doing what I do, which is write and perform and these new, temporary platforms like TV have been an interesting opportunity. I can't say it's a life-long career type of thing, but the opportunity to play with some of these fabulous guests and to see some of the people who I admire and think are under-appreciated has been great."
• When Costello and his family – wife Diana Krall and two twin sons – aren't on the road, they spend time at their home near Vancouver, B.C.
"We come for sort of a holiday here, in between working, and that's what makes this a joyful place. We can all be together. For a good part of last year, Diana and I were in different parts of the world, and then you get the exciting and romantic aspect of meeting up, thankfully, somewhere attractive. It would be less so if … I won't say a place because I don't want to get in trouble. It was our fortune that this year, even though we were apart rather more than we like, our boys are always with one or the other of us. So there's a family at home or a family on the move, whether it be here, New York or on a tour bus somewhere."